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I am a fan of the few books that Aldiss has written or edited He has an excellent eye for description and detail.In HARM, he looks at current political events with a critical eye towards all of humanity Blind faith Christian is assailed, as is pedantic, arrogant science His anti hero, Paul, a British Muslim, is a character about whom no past is known Suspicious in his form on Earth does the government have a reason for watching him , and vile in his form on Stygia, where he is a perpetual stranger, Paul is yet sympathetic for the abuse he suffers and his perpetual status as an outsider.This is the kind of heavy duty sci fi that stands above genre writing, as much as it embraces genre This is a serious, and sometimes unpleasant, well written novel. Brian Aldiss is known for being a Socialist who injects political statements into his writing And by a Socialist I mean the true definition, not the quasi paranoid accusation that gets banded around and barely resembles actual Socialism by the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party In the last ten years there has been no greater rallying call for Socialism than the mistreatment of Muslims in the west following 9 11 and on the back of it, the Freedom for Palestine movement.This is the story of a science fiction writer in the near future who falls foul of an extremist regime built on Islamophobia The writer himself is a secular Muslim who writes a satire in which a couple of drunks make off the cuff remarks about throwing a bomb into Downing Street For this, he is arrested, incarcerated and tortured Various evidences of his extremist point of view are thrown at him and the authorities try to break him.A heavy political statement then, not everybody s cup of tea and when the story opens the torturers are very much the stereotype of knuckle dragging government henchmen of the generic dystopia Where the story begins to have depth is in a little side story that develops out of our protagonist s coping mechanism As a science fiction writer, he knows how to create fantasy world and inside his mind, this is exactly what he does Fremant is a colonist arriving on Stygia having escaped persecution only the find that on this remote world, humanity is suppressing a race of sentient insects Out of the frying pan and into the fire it seems Gradually, the two plot lines merge and you start to wonder which of the threads is real and which is the fantasy or is it somewhere in the middle This is the first of Aldiss work that I have read and I can t say I was particularly impressed Sure, it feels very much written in the style of British sci fi generation that Aldiss is a part and one of the last and that is a plus point, classic yet modern and topical Unfortunately, unlike a lot of that generation of writing, it really fails to hold the attention It is a short novel and should have taken me 3 4 nights of reading for about 2 3 hours each But I ve dipped in and out over the last couple of weeks mostly because it did not grip me The characters in the dystopia thread are rather one dimensional and as we follow mostly interrogations, I kept wanting for something to happen instead of the monotony of a thug hitting, swearing and accusin our protagonist of all sorts of things It gets really tiresome.In the other thread, though the world was far illustrated, I found I did not really care enough about the characters or the place to absorb myself in the book Besides which, as the other story thread was so weak, it made enjoying this part of the book just that little bit harder That is probably the reason for why my attention tended to drift rather a lot while reading it.This is not a bad book, but neither will it go down as a sci fi classic If you prefer not to be bludgeoned with political statements in novels, or would rather that social issues were handled in a clever or subtle manner then this book is probably not for you As it is, Aldiss tends to let his political rhetoric get in the way a little too often for my liking and that is regardless of whether I agreed with him or not.See book reviews at my blog This book started well I think that the themes of torture, government suspicion and persecution are relevant in an increasingly divided world However, I was absolutely shocked by the author s decision to have his protagonist casually rape a female character early on in the plot because after this act, I began to care less about what happened to him I found this decision by Aldiss extremely puzzling I could understand Aldiss deciding to make an evil adversary commit such a crime but for him to have the main character do so, I then lost all sympathy for him and didn t really care if he lived or died A troubling position as a reader when you really should care about the main character s journey I also thought that some of the torture scenes went a bit too far for my liking It would be interesting to know the reasons that Aldiss had for some extremely puzzling decisions I suppose I have learnt something from reading this don t annoy your readers by suspending their sympathies for your main character by having them commit such an atrocity Especially in the wake of the metoo movement, this does not sit well at all. Though it is an 11 year old book, Harm remains a very topical and therefore difficult read.The torture passages succeeded at disgusting and outraging me and I could certainly conceive of a throwaway line in the book of a Muslim author being misconstrued as terrorist intent.Thankfully though such abasement makes up only half the story The other half set on the planet Stygia proves an interesting exploration of a newly birthed society finding its feet However I found some characters here noticeably two dimensional, especially the women Aldiss has an endearingly plain speaking approach to science fiction but I would have liked a bit detail about the human element, at least where events on Stygia were concerned The characters certainly deserved as vivid descriptions as the fantastic insectoid inhabitants of the colonised planet.Harm is a strong example of sci fi as a social critique but I wouldn t hold it in such high estimation as Huxley s A Brave New World or Bradbury s Fahrenheit 451 Nevertheless if you love Aldiss then this remains a must read. First off, let me say that Brian W Aldiss Harm was and is an incredibly difficult book to have finished, despite its deceptively short length As a bitter commentary on the War on Terror and its present and possible abuses, however, HARM remains a vital contribution to the best traditions of science fiction from one of the British masters.Heartbreakingly depressing yet with a powerful message to convey, HARM provides a warning to the reader, presumably a resident of the ostensibly civilized West, not to allow his or her fears and prejudices to consume our humanity even as we fight against perpetrators of genuine evil It is noteworthy that even as the protagonist s torturers increasingly lapse in their humanity, the protagonist s alter ego on the planet Stygia gains ever increasing humanizing tendencies even while Paul Fadhil Abbas Ali s humanity lapses as his already fragile mental state shatters, Fremant transforms from brutal rapist into tender lover, from desensitized, amoral bodyguard into speaker for victims of genocide.Few symbols of authority are immune from Aldiss cry in the night Not religion, perpetrator of prejudice that apparently criminalizes merely being Muslim not government, corrupting absolutely those who wield absolute power at any level and not science, either ignored altogether or perverted for ulterior motives With melancholy and poetic prose, Aldiss condemns both an England in the process of surrendering its civilization in its fight against terrorists who would destroy it themselves, and those Muslims who refuse to modernize and participate in Western society Aldiss criticizes a religion that once counseled turning the other cheek, but is now lost see page 69 Aldiss even questions humanity itself, wondering aloud whether a world where men had the upper hand was much better page 163 than one in which insects predominated.But Aldiss suggests answers and solutions as well, albeit leaving it to the reader to make the ultimate decisions as to remedying the problem What you think you perceive as guilt, the rest of us see as survival Page 203 Aldiss notes that the cycle of dehumanization and violence is cyclical, the tail wagging the dog as often as vice versa, and in holding up a dark mirror to ourselves, he offers warning that the reader fails to heed at his or her peril.While HARM is depressing, it remains an important read. Wow This is a vivid and devastating vision of the ways in which U.S and British politics have been taken over by fear and paranoia One part of the novel, set in a detainment prison, speaks directly to the institution of camps like Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib within cultures that are supposedly civilized Paul Fadhil Abbas Ali, a Muslim British writer, has been imprisoned on suspicion of association with terrorists and encouragement of terrorist actions like assassinating the prime minister While imprisoned, he is tortured, isolated, and lied to In this state, he begins to see another world, Stygia, and another man, Fremant On Stygia, human colonists are eking out a rough existence after a long flight from a devastated earth Religion, science, and political intrigue are all at odds as humanity fragments into separate groups The plot seesaws between Ali s experiences in prison and Fremant s experiences on Stygia Both men are divided and fragmented themselves Ali is British and Muslim and trying to come to terms with this split identity Fremant is the Eternal Stranger, never at home in any group he joins As Aldiss takes us from one world to the other, it becomes less and less clear where reality lies Both are real both are figments of the other s imagination The question of where reality lies is not limited to this, though Is reality or truth to be found in religion Science Politics None of these seem to hold the answer for Fremant on Stygia As the colonists on Stygia seek to kill the Dogovers natives of the planet , this genocide is justified by political expediency, fear, and religious ideology Then the political imperative changes thus the moral imperative changes as well Told he must make restitution to the remaining Dogovers, one citizen says, I were told not so long ago I had one of these moral obligations to kill em all orf So much for all such talk 142 Morality here follows politics Science is no better Upon finding the last surviving native and delivering him to the capitol city, the scientists use him for experimentation and then kill him in order to examine his brain Fremant objects You have just proved that he is our equal in intellect and he s the last of his race You must let him go free But the head scientist replies that they cannot do that for he is much too precious to us We are scientific people, my friend 193 Reality, truth, morality Aldiss clearly shows us that these things are not to be found in politics, religion, or science.So where can these things be found Aldiss never answers this question In fact, this refusal to provide an answer to this most important question is the reason the book is so devastating, so dark Aldiss writes, All men in authority, however they begin, become hateful with time 207 Both narratives on Earth and on Stygia reveal this There seems to be no escape from the ever corrupting force of power Without power, nothing can be done to change the world with power, however, men become hateful Even the best of men. Fabu MROK u dobrze stre ci wydawca na tylnej ok adce, tak e tylko powt rz w ogromnym skr cie Przewodnim motywem jest przetrzymywanie bez wyroku pewnego Brytyjczyka muzu ma skiego pochodzenia Trafi on do wi zienia po tym, jak napisa satyryczn ksi k , kt ra zawiera a kr tk , artobliw rozmow o zamordowaniu premiera Wielkiej Brytanii.Na jej podstawie uznano go za terroryst i w wi zieniu poddawano brutalnym torturom, aby zdradzi swoje powi zania Podczas przes ucha traci on wiadomo i wtedy poznajemy drugiego g wnego bohatera, prawdopodobnie jego alter ego yj ce na odleglej planecie Stygia.Wi ksza cz ksi ki to w a nie opis odleg ej planety, na kt r zostali wys ani ludzie w nadziei stworzenia lepszego wiata Niestety, podobnie jak na starej Ziemi, na Stygii panuje ustr j przypominaj cy dyktatur wojskow , a opozycja skupia si wok przyw dcy chc cego przywr ci wyrugowan religi chrze cija sk.Brian Aldiss pisz c MROK nawi zywa do bardzo dobrych, dystopijnych wzorc w, ale temat zosta potraktowany pobie nie Owszem, mo emy przyj e si , jak system stworzony do walki z terroryzmem, maj cy sta na stra y naszej wolno ci, niszczy i depcze podstawowe prawa cz owieka Mo emy te do wiadczy prymitywnej natury ludzkiej, kt ra przetrwa w ka dej postaci, niezale nie od czasu i miejsca.Jednak j zyk, jakim jest napisana ksi ka jest jak muzyka przygrywaj ca do niemego filmu Emocje co najwy ej mo emy sobie wyobrazi Dialogi przypominaj momentami brazylijskie mydlane opery albo s wyj tkowo toporne I absolutnie nie jest to zarzut do t umacza, kt ry wietnie odda styl pisarza Po prostu mamy do czynienia z tw rczo ci , kt ra delikatnie m wi c tr ci myszk Tworzenie ca ego wiata fantasy w g owie m czonego wi nia jest ciekawym pomys em, ale jego realizacja jest ju du o gorsza Mia em wra enie czytania dw ch zupe nie r nych ksi ek.O dziwo cz fantastyczny by a o wiele bardziej realna Gdyby nie rozwini cie jednego naprawd ciekawego pomys u na spotkanie ludzi ze Stygii z obc ras tzw Psiarzami , to by bym zawiedziony Ca y motyw z Psiarzami, i to jak ludzie ich potraktowali, szczeg lnie przypad mi do gustu.Bardzo si ciesz , e tak do wiadczeni pisarze jak Brian Aldiss podejmuj si trudnych temat w Nie jestem jednak pewien, czy komentarz autora do wiatowej polityki antyterrorystycznej powinien mie tak form. Brian Aldiss is one of the greats of science fiction, along with Clarke, Bradbury Azimov This is a great book.It isn t, however, an easy read, dealing with 2 issues which interest me, namely human rights also mental health Paul Ali, a writer of Muslim heritage has been arrested is being tortured for writing a scene in a book where two drunk characters discuss assassinating the Prime Minister To escape from these atrocities, Paul s dissociative personality disorder creates a world called Stygia, where Paul is known as Fremant The torture scenes are horrifically written, sound similar to accounts I ve heard read from survivors of torture Aldiss views on security in the post 9 11 world are on display here Not an easy read by any stretch of the imagination, but a book I m glad I have read Not for the squeamish, but definitely worthy of your attention. I honestly think this deserves four stars but He had an amazing idea and didn t work it through to something that would appeal to a mainstream audience I know, why should he He shouldn t.But he has written something that is absolutely relevant to the shit we are currently having to deal with and it sheds light on some of the prejudices and skewed news reporting that we currently suffer from This is very, very relevant.Okay, it s not an easy read Maybe it is for sci fi fans But then, maybe they don t like it I don t know any so can t ask But this is about now Aldiss has seen what s going on and embedded it in an enjoyable narrative It s only at the end that we think Oh, shit, that s what is going on and I can imagine us all being in the same position that they are in here It s genuinely frightening I wasn t looking forward to reading this but I might have had my horizons widened Also, it s an amazing achievement in blending two utterly different narratives different stories almost into one coherent piece of work that disturbs, informs and warns warns at the same time Read it ^READ EBOOK ↡ Harm ✐ From One Of Science Fiction S Greatest Living Writers Comes An Unforgettable Near Future Novel In The Hortatory Tradition Of Bradbury S Fahrenheit , Orwell S , And Dick S A Scanner Darkly Both A Searing Indictment Of A Fear Drenched Political Climate And A Visionary Allegory That Shines A Piercing Light On Timeless Human Verities, HARM Is A Powerfully Compact Masterwork That Is Sure To Be One Of The Most Passionately Discussed Books Of The YearThe Time Is Today Or Tomorrow Or Perhaps The Day After Tomorrow Paul Fadhil Abbas Ali, A Young British Citizen Of Muslim Descent, Has Written A Satirical Novel In Which Two Characters Joke About The Assassination Of The Prime Minister Arrested By Agents Of HARM The Hostile Activities Research Ministry Paul Is Thrown Into A Nameless Abu Ghraib Like Prison, Possibly Located In Syria, Where He Is Held Incommunicado And Brutally Interrogated By Jailers To Whom His Muslim Heritage Is Itself A Crime Meriting The Harshest Punishment Under This Sadistic Regime, Paul S Personality Begins To Show Signs Of Radical Fragmentation On The Remote Planet Of Stygia, A Man Named Fremant, Haunted By Memories Of Torture That Seem Drawn From Paul S Mind, Is One Of A Small Group Of Colonists Struggling For Survival On A Harsh But Weirdly Beautiful World Whose Dominant Life Forms Are Insects The Sole Humanoid Race On The Planet Has Been Hunted To Extinction By The Human Settlers, Whose Long Journey To Stygia Has Left Them Unable To Understand Their Own History And TechnologyThrown Back To A Primitive State, They Seem Destined To Repeat All The Sins Of The World They Fled To Stygia To EscapeIs Paul Dreaming Fremant As A Way Of Escaping The Horrors Of His Imprisonment Or Is There A Stronger And Far Stranger Connection Between The Two Men, Whose Very Different Circumstances Begin To Take On Uncanny Parallels As Aspects Of Their Identities Blur And, Finally, Merge, Astonishing Answers Take Shape And Profound New Questions Arise From The Hardcover Edition